Victory Headwaters Pale Ale: a preview.

Earlier today, so early that Richard Ruch wasn’t even on the premises as yet, Victory Brewing co-founder Bill Covaleski (left), at no thought of the danger to his security or sanity, previewed the new, 15th-anniversary celebrating Headwaters Pale Ale at the Downingtown brewpub for a motley group of beer and food bloggers. He explained that the special preview was carefully planned at the highest executive levels: “I’m here because Ron (partner and co-founder Ron Barchet) didn’t want to be.”

The good news, you will likely not be surprised to learn, is that the beer, which will become part of the Victory packaged line, is quite good. The strong presence of Citra hops which are notable in the nose and up front and then reemerge in the finish (Centennial hops have their moment as well) sets it apart from most examples of the popular style. Very drinkable, it’s a comfortable 5% so that fellow attendee and session beer czar (“there’s not a man alive who can handle more than 4.5”) Lew Bryson, who was later to embarrass himself terribly (don’t ask) during a tour of the kitchen to check out the extraordinary birthday cake which will be the centerpiece of the official anniversary party on Tuesday night, only harrumphed a little tiny bit while muttering under his breath. It was an ideal match for the veggie quiche and pear salad I chose to accompany it.

I asked Bill and my fellow bloggers and have been trying ever since to recall any other brewery’s major anniversary celebration which was centered around the introduction of a new, year-round and eminently accessible beer rather than some limited release, super big, geek fantasy brew which creates a near riot as every gotta have him his, all to no avail. Then again, Victory has been there and done that near riot thing already.

I’ll have more to say about Headwaters Pale, or not, once I get a chance to see how effectively my attempt to tape the conversation went (early indications are not promising). It will go on tap Tuesday for the big celebration, which will also feature a video recounting how the aforementioned Ruch kidnapped two young lads off a school bus in Collegeville and kept them prisoners until they were old enough and smart enough to create a brewery which made beers he liked and attached it to a pub where he could drink those beers for several hours every single day called “Fifteen Years of Character” at 6:30pm, filled with commentary from friends and fans and featuring remarks by Greg Koch of Stone Brewing and Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Craft Brewing.

All of that will come to a head(waters) Tuesday night. You might want to be there.

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